Deeper Into Jeopardy! XIV: The Far East – $1200

Jeopardy! category: THE FAR EAST (15-04-2014)

$1200 clue: We shall return to this island nation & its large lakes like lake Lanao on Mindanao

Correct response

The gist: When American WWII General Douglas MacArthur said that he intended to return, he was promising to come back to liberate the island after it was taken over by Japanese forces in WWII. However, there have been lots of opportunities to return to Lake Lanao in the Philippines – it’s been hanging around the island of Mindanao for over a million years, making it one of the world’s fifteen “ancient lakes.” Its longevity, along with that of the other fourteen, makes it something of a natural laboratory for evolution – just as the Galapagos Islands evolved many different species due to their seclusion from one another, many ancient lakes have developed a large number of endemic aquatic species that aren’t found elsewhere. Lanao was once home to a variety of cyprinid fish and many types of waterfowl, but unfortunately overfishing, pollution, and algae blooms have caused many of them to die off or move elsewhere. According to Philippine folklore, too, Lanao was once home to a large population – but only of people. In fact, there were so many people living in present-day Lake Lanao that their weight threatened to topple the world onto its side. The Archangel Gabriel supposedly transported all the people of the Lake region to the centre of the Earth during a solar eclipse, which caused water to rush into the now-vacant spot – so much water that it threatened to flood. With the help of the winds, Gabriel created three rivers and a waterfall that share Mindanao with the lake.

lake lanao

Lake Lanao on Google Earth between two bays, Iligan to its north and Ilana to its south

The clue: Two tacks for this clue. The first is “we shall return,” a reference to General MacArthur’s famous promise and his later feats in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The second is the more straightforward geography part – just knowing what country Mindanao is a part of. But even then, in a category of the Far East, if the clue is about an island nation there are really only three options: the Philippines, its neighbour Indonesia, and Japan. If you have no idea whatsoever, it would be unwise to guess, but the odds are still not bad.

In Jeopardy!: The Philippines has been in over 200 clues, so let’s skip it and look at the island instead. “Mindanao” has been in 17 clues, two of which also featured Lanao. Only three of the clues wanted Mindanao as the correct response, and they were all high-value clues. Of the remaining 14, 13 had “Philippines” as the correct response. The only remaining clue was about Luzon, the country’s largest and northernmost island (Mindanao is its second largest and southernmost).


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